RANDOM SAILOR MOON RANT
This is the marketing of the Sailor Moon that I grew up with. Aside from the occasional “This one goes out to the ladies”, there’s very little to indicate here that they were marketing it as a “girls’ show” or that they felt they needed to make it extra pink and cute and young, naive, childish, fluffy, or clean in order to appeal to girls.
They advertised violence and battles and people fighting. And fully expected young girls to watch.
And girls flocked to it. Along with a whole lot of boys, too.
Now, I’m super duper glad that Sailor Moon is coming back to the states. I love that we’re getting new merchandise, and that there’s rereleased manga (that I rushed out to buy the day it was released) and all that.
I’m really glad.
But if there’s anything this current franchise reboot is telling me, it’s that the people in charge don’t get it. They don’t understand what made Sailor Moon so popular in the first place.
The old American logo was blue and white and yellow and had a bold blocky font. The new logo is pastel yellow and pink and has a curly almost-cursive font.
The new playing cards are pink, the old were white. The new wallscrolls either feature all the girls looking ahead and smiling, or are covered in pink and lace graphics.
I love pink, I love lace. I don’t think pink and lace should undo the badassness of things, and if you think that stereotypical femininity and hardcore asskicking cannot exist together than… well… you’re wrong.
But look at the Sailor Moon that was advertised to us as kids. It wasn’t advertised to us as being some hyper-feminine just-for-girls cute! and precious! cuddly story.
It was advertised as what it is, which it should aspire to be, a story of soldiers and heroism and butt-kicking bravery that happens to feature girls as its protagonists.
Something about this reboot merch is just too focused on the “ITS FER GIRLZ” aspect of the story to me. Especially seeing (as many men have pointed out) that none of the new t-shirts come in men’s sizes, and the shirt of Tuxedo Mask makes it seem like he’s the one who does all the saving. And the merchandise is more pink than any of the stickers or posters or RPG game cards I collected when I was youngtser.
The old Sailor Moon was marketed as something that everyone could like, and was marketed to girls in such a way that said “Just because you’re a girl doesn’t mean you have to like pink and never get dirty (though if you want to, that’s okay too).”
And now it’s being marketed as “NOSTALGIA FOR GIRLS. ONLY PINK AND ONLY WOMEN’S SIZES.”
And it just kind of makes me sad.
I may be completely wrong here, though.
Great argument although I have to ask my bestie about this one. She’s the expert in SM. From my own experience beyond Toonami (I used to hunt for merchandise and collectables during the 90s) it was a very “girly” show. I’m not saying it couldn’t have a diverse fanbase but the original tone of the show was very much satin, lace, and bows. I think that factor was cut back a bit in translation so it came off more universally appealing in the states. It probably helped that when Toonami came on it was pretty par for the course to just watch it straight through. Even if one of the shows wasn’t something you’d normally watch. Thus the male fanbase grew much more than it might have otherwise.
I also think that something being feminine has a slightly different affect on the audiences. I don’t know for sure but it seems that something being seen as female oriented in japan doesn’t have as much of an affect on who actually watches the show. In america, it’s all about gender. I’m only saying that based on my own experiences so I could be totally wrong but this argument still stands. It would be nice to see SM marketed universally instead of to “little girls”. To be honest I think a lot of the plot (depending on editing) is lost on children anyway. This seems like a classic case of assuming a cartoon is for children. That rarely seems to be the case with anime. At least the stuff that’s brought over to america. Can’t speak for all of it.
Oh, there was absolutely a lot “girly” marketing happening in the 90s. I don’t mean to suggest that back then it was some utopia of gender-diverse marketing. It wasn’t. It just feels like now is a little bit less diverse in marketing than then, but that might just be me getting older.
And the marketing originally in Japan was definitely more lace-and-bows than in America. But honestly, of all the awful, rantworthy changes made to the North American dub, the change in the marketing and framing of the show to be more broad and inclusive is possibly the only one that I approve of.
Which isn’t to suggest that I think… God, how do I put this?
I love Sailor Moon so much. I have a Sailor Moon tattoo planned for the day when I’m eventually financially stable enough (lol will never happen) to get a tattoo without having to worry about it. I bought two of the new t-shirts and have one old t-shirt from before (that’s rags by now, but still). I have almost the whole collection of the original American manga release. I have the whole series on DVD. I’ve watched and read through the whole thing so many times. Plus having watched PGSM and the stage musicals.
And one of the things I daydream about sometimes is a complete remake of the anime, one that is a more loyal adaptation of the manga.
And one of the things I fear is a complete remake of the anime.
Because I worry it’d either go in a “moe” direction, cutesying everything up and being Sailor Moon, the Hello Kitty edition. Because, as this franchise reboot would suggest, these days everyone remembers it as that girls’ show.
Or it’d go in a “Let’s start taking this seriously!" edition, where "taking this seriously" is mistaken for "making it masculine, because nothing feminine can ever be serious".
What made Sailor Moon, both in Japan and America, so groundbreaking and interesting when it happened was twofold:
1) It was, formulaically and by design, a shounen format. It followed the sentai formulas (especially the anime) and the manga followed far more shounen patterns than shoujo ones. This was intentional. Super Sentai shows (e.g., Power Rangers) were making a lot of money. They wanted to see if they could make more of that money from girls. So they intentionally took a previously entirely boy-marketed and masculine format, and left it almost entirely intact and put girls in the leads.
2) The leader was The Chick. In a normal five-man-band scenario, her girlishness and peppy, clumsy, occasional shallowness would have been enough to invalidate her ability. She would have been the one girl, possibly the weakest member of the group, and would have been there only because they felt like they needed a chick.
But in Sailor Moon, Usagi/Serena is the leader. She’s the strongest of all of them. Her hyper-feminine aspects do nothing to invalidate her strength.
Simultaneously, there’s 9 other girls fighting too, filling all the other “five-man-band” roles plus. So the spectrum of femininity represented and validated is broadened until the show is saying, essentially, “there’s no wrong way to be a girl”. Combine that with gender-diverse marketing, and the show then also says “it’s okay to look up to girls” to both little girls and little boys.
Sailor Moon was definitely marketed a bit older in Japan than the US, but not that much older. Fans sometimes, thinking it’s somehow shameful to like something marketed to kids, play up and exaggerate the difference. But it was definitely for kids in Japan as well.
I guess what I’m saying about the reboot that’s disappointing to me is that Sailor Moon is perfectly situated as a story and as a franchise to be something more inclusive and thoughtful and fun and enlightening without ever being preachy. It once came close to fulfilling that promise. And I feel like narrowing a franchise reboot instead of broadening it is such a lost opportunity.
I just rambled for a really long time. IDK why I did that.
Oh, wait. I do. I just really really love Sailor Moon lol.
I also love your blog. Thanks for the reblog!
(((And sorry if this sounded like an argument against you, because I think we actually agree? [correct me if I’m wrong, XD]. I meant it as an addition/continuation, lol.)))
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